FLINT - The governor of South Carolina recently ordered state employees to answer the phone by saying "It's a great day in South Carolina."
Aside from being nauseatingly optimistic, that must mean things are actually pretty rough there. You don't say things are great if they really are. That's the kind of thing you only do when things stink.
But you can't blame them for trying.
What are you going to do, say, "Hi, it's a grim day in South Carolina - unemployment is sky high, we need some rain and, frankly, the other Carolina's a lot nicer."
That's a bit too honest. Although it does raise the question of what the other states would have employees say if honesty were, in fact, required.
As an equal opportunity offender, I have a few ideas, of course. (And, yes, mine are better than Jay Leno's. Just ask me.)
Alabama - "Hi, it's a great day in Alabama. We've had indoor plumbing for 10 whole years now!"
Alaska - "Hi, you've reached Alaska. If you like huntin' stuff from a helicopter, we're your state."
Arizona - "Hello, you've reached the state of Arizona. Average temperature: About 90. Average age: Also about 90."
Arkansas - "Hi, ya'll, this here is Arkansas. After the last few presidents, we're no longer ashamed to admit that we're Bill Clinton's home state."
California - "Hi, you've reached California - silicon and silicone capital of the world."
Colorado - "Hello, you've reached the state of Colorado. Yes, our governor's name is really Hickenlooper, OK?"
Connecticut - "It's a great day in Connecticut. And even when it's not we take comfort in the fact that at least we're not Delaware."
Delaware - "Hey!"
Florida (really loud) "I said, 'HI, GOD"S WAITING ROOM, HOW CAN I HELP YOU?'"
Georgia - "Thanks for calling the state of Georgia, home of, well, let's just say 'Deliverance' wasn't all that far off the mark, OK?"
Hawaii - "Aloha, you've reached Hawaii. Go on, admit it, you wish you lived here, right?"
Idaho - "Hi, you've reached Idaho. If we eat one more ^%$#@! potato, we think we'll throw up."
Illinois - "Illinois here. All hail Oprah, queen and master."
Indiana - "Hi, you've reached Indiana, where nothing of any consequence has ever happened. And we mean ever. Seriously. God, we're so bored."
Iowa - "Hello, you've reached Iowa, the other I state. Sometimes we can't tell which is which either."
Kansas - "Hello, this is Kansas. Just to be clear, the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs are Missouri's fault, not ours."
Kentucky - "Hi, Kentucky here. You may know us for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Kentucky Derby and ... well, no, that's about it - chicken and the race. We gotta diversify."
Louisiana - "Hey, you've reached Louisiana, where, yes, we're still pretty steamed about the federal lack of response to Katrina."
Maine "Hi, state of Maine. The phone receptionist got caught in a snowstorm and won't be in today. Leave a message."
Maryland "Hi, it's a great day in Maryland - closer to Washington D.C. than we're comfortable with."
Massachusetts Hi, this is Massachusetts. Before you ask, it's two Ss and two Ts."
Michigan Greetings from the Great Lakes State, home of - we can hardly believe we're bragging about this either - the Detroit Lions!"
Minnesota Hey, you've reached Minnesota. Average age: 32. Average temperature: Also about 32."
Mississippi "Hey, ya'll, you've reached Mississippi fewer teeth per capita than yer probly used to."
Missouri "You've reached the state of Missouri. We're officially known as the cave state, which tells you how much we have going on here.
Montana "Hi, you've reached Montana, magnet state for right wing nuts everywhere."
Nebraska "Hello, you've reached the great state of Nebraska - corn, corn and more corn."
Nevada "Hi, Nevada here, home of Las Vegas. No, you can't have your money back."
New Hampshire "Hi, this is New Hampshire. We're one of those tall thin states next to each other on the map. Bet you're not sure which one, though."
New Jersey "Yo, New Jersey here. Listen, we're just as embarrassed about 'The Jersey Shore' as you are for us for 'The Jersey Shore,' so let's move on, OK?"
New Mexico "You've reached New Mexico, although to be honest we're thinking about dropping the New part. Hey, the truth's the truth.
New York - "Hi, this is New York, home of the stinkin' Yankees and stinkin' Mets, the stinkin' Jets and the stinkin' Giants. Jeez, can't anyone play ball around here?"
North Carolina "Greetings, you've reached North Carolina. Please don't confuse us with those rubes down in South Carolina. We really hate that."
North Dakota "Hi, this is North Dakota, home of 50 square miles per person."
Ohio "Yeah, you've reached Ohio. Nobody can come to the phone right now. We're all out looking for a better place to live." (This joke brought to you by a UM fan go Blue!)
Oklahoma "Howdy, this here is Oklahoma. Let's just put it this way, the musical was way too kind."
Oregon "Hi, you've reached the state of Oregon. We can't come to the phone right now. We're in the restroom. Do you have any idea how many coffee shops we have?"
Pennsylvania "Hi, it's a great day in Pennsylvania. To be honest, our cheesesteaks are overrated."
Rhode Island - "Hi, you've reached Rhode Island. No, we're not really an island and, no, we don't know why we're called that either. Our founders were a bit confused."
South Dakota "Hi, you've reached South Dakota. So you can keep us straight, we're the one with Mt. Rushmore."
Tennessee "You done reached Tennessee. Our famous mountains are called the Smokeys. Our other famous mountains are called Dolly Parton."
Texas "Howdy do, folks. Texas here. If you think Dubya was bad, just wait 'til you get a load of Rick Perry."
Utah "Hello, you've reached Utah. For the last time, it's not a cult, OK?"
Vermont - "Hi, you've reached Vermont. We're cold. So very cold. Send blankets."
Virginia "Virginia here. Proudly not West Virginia since 1788."
Washington "Hi, it's a great day in Washington. Today's forecast: Rain. Tomorrow's forecast: Rain. The forecast for the foreseeable future: Rain. God, we're so blue."
West Virginia "Hello, it's a great day in West Virginia, unless you happen to be a deer or a varmint of some kind. Yeehaw!"
Wisconsin "Yah, hello dere, this is da state a Wisconsin. We don't cut the cheese, but we do wear it on our heads, eh?"
Wyoming - "Hi, this is Wyoming. Yup, we're one of those square states but we bet you're not sure which one."
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.